Ben Roethlisberger Reveals Extent of Last Year’s Elbow Injury


Joe Sargent/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Earlier today Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the media for the first time since last season. To sum up his remarks, Roethlisberger said he remains highly motivated and still hopes to win multiple Super Bowls before he retires.

Most notably, perhaps, he provided insight into the extent of the elbow injury he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks during week two of last year—an injury that required season-ending elbow surgery.

Not Tommy John Surgery, Exactly

Specifically, Roethlisberger told assembled media that he tore three flexor tendons off the bone, “elbow surgery he believes no QB has ever come back from,” according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, who added it was “not Tommy John [surgery] but something similar and very serious.”

Roethlisberger also revealed that his right elbow had been bothering him “for quite a few years,” but not to the extent it troubled him during the Seahawks game.

After throwing a pass midway through the second quarter of that contest, Roethlisberger was seen wincing and grabbing his right elbow. Then, after unleashing a longer pass in the direction of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster he felt something different—and worse.

“I felt a different pain, a different discomfort than I had ever felt,” Roethlisberger said, recalling the moment. “It was kind of shooting down my arm. I knew something was different at that moment.”

As it turns out, he tore three of five flexor tendons off the bone, which puts him in rarified company among NFL quarterbacks.

“I believe another quarterback had maybe one or two torn off, but not three, from what I understand,” Roethlisberger elaborated.

But assuming his recovery continues apace Roethlisberger says he plans to play beyond this season.

“I’m not saying I’ve got 10 years left in me, but I feel like I’ve got some good years in me,” he concluded. “I still want to win Lombardis, and I say that with a plural on the end.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster & Co.

Making Roethlisberger’s comeback a little easier will be Pittsburgh’s wide receiver corps, which is both young and talented. Fourth-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster may be the biggest name of the group, but second-year man Diontae Johnson has already flashed the ability of a future No. 1 receiver. Meanwhile, third-year wide receiver James Washington took a big step forward during the second half of last season, while rookie second-rounder Chase Claypool already looks like he will be a great draft pick.

Never mind the addition of tight end Eric Ebron, who caught 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts in 2018.

If Roethlisberger’s comeback wavers for any reason, the Steelers will have to turn to backup Mason Rudolph—or perhaps third-stringer Devlin Hodges—who together held down the fort last year while Big Ben was out of the lineup. In that case, the Steelers would be counting on Rudolph taking a big leap forward; at the moment Pittsburgh’s backup QB situation is considered to be one of the biggest roster holes in the NFL.

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